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April 26, 2020

Gemoedsbekakking

Depression in Covid-19 lockdown

This lockdown is brutal for all of us. My register is becoming a lot higher pitched and strident. I watch my friends on Zoom and listen to their narrative on social media. We’re all putting a brave face on things but the cracks are showing. You look shattered. I’m shattered. I don’t know how to help you. There are people who can help … just reach out and ask for help and they’ll appear for you.

Here’s what’s happening to me. Your journey may be similar. I think I may be feeling depressed. Come to think of it, I wish I felt depressed because it would mean that I’m actually feeling something. This is something more insidious … it’s like a no-feeling detachment. It’s a severing of a cord that has kept me slightly grounded. It’s a soulless feeling, something you’d expect from the Vulcan, Spock.

Afrikaans has a good word for it: Gemoedsbekakking. Your soul has been shat on. You’ve shat your soul out. Your soul is fractured. Pick a meaning. Whichever way you slice it, it’s bad. It’s a fucking desolate and hopeless space to be in.

I find myself more abrupt with people. I’m picking fights on Facebook (that’s really a pointless exercise). I’m becoming more isolated (like a bear licking its wounds in a cave). If I can focus for two hours a day, it’s a bonus. How I’ve even written this far is a miracle. I don’t eat. Then I binge. If I look at another webinar I’m going to stab myself with the corner of my iPad until I pass out. Worst of all, I’ve lost my curiosity and that is the death knell for a writer.

I’m not sure why I feel like this? It can’t be the isolation … on the path I’m on, I’ve been isolated for longer than this. This is a doddle as far as time is concerned. For those that know me well, you know that my life has always been a perfect mess and as a result I have been blessed with more than I could ever have wanted for myself. My grammar should be full of gratitude, but it isn’t.

I’ve been doing a lot of introspection (if half an hour a day is a lot) and peeling off layers of the onion. My life has been pretty humdrum and shouldn’t give rise to gemoedsbekakking. Yes, like for all of us, my life has a few unexpected kinks and some wrong turns in it, but they’re hardly worth mentioning: the levitation incident and haunting when I was two years old, that when I was six years old I lay in bed for three months praying to God to kill me (that one worried my parents a little bit), I nearly made a Faustian bargain with a demon, the near-fatal ambush (which had it succeeded, would have sent me straight to an asylum) and a confused sexual encounter (women aren’t supposed to have Adam’s Apples and five o clock shadows, are they?) Boring stuff and nothing to write home about.

One thing, however, has become apparent to me. Remember in the last newsletter I said that I had grandfather issues (Old Spice) and not father issues. I think I was wrong … definitely father issues. Big ones.

I had two fathers, one was absent and one was abusive. What a balls up. Not only am I gemoedsbekak, now I have to contend with abandonment issues and the fear of getting fucked up.

It makes for an interesting dynamic in my relationships, that’s for sure. I’m afraid of being abandoned but when someone gets too close to me I shudder in fear and push them away. As I said, what a balls up.

This is my experience. Would I have it any other way? Probably not … it has made me into this fractured, quirky, messy, glass half empty, ray of doom who can make people laugh, make them cry, make them think and most important, make them feel.

If this verkakte story made you feel anything (anger, irritation, sadness, gratefulness … whatever) then you don’t have vermoedsbekakking. Your centre is fine and you are going to get through this isolation come hell or high water. Keep connecting to your friends and family.

Don’t ask me how my weight is doing in lockdown

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If I thought I had it tough …

My friend Julie was diagnosed with cancer a while ago. She wrote a journal which she entrusted me with to pass onto her daughter if she died. After a massive fight (mere words can’t describe it), she is cancer free. “Julie, I’ll make the journal nice and you give it to your own daughter,” love, me.

My friend, Sarah, another cancer survivor, wrote this compelling piece, Corona vs. Cancer: No Contest For Me. It’s harrowing and revealing. She’s right. Cancer is a sneaky bastard of a thing.

This may be useful to you

  1. If you’re a bit like me and find it hard to ask for money, Read Amanda Palmer’s, The Art of Asking. I’m reading it at the moment. Who knows, one day I may be able to ask. You can watch her Ted Talk too.
  2. Nows a good time to be looking at the sales copy on your website and in your marketing collateral. There’s a quick, dirty and effective way to write awesome sales copy fast. Read, The One Sentence Persuasion Course: 27 Words To Make The World Do Your Bidding by Blair Warren. You’re welcome. When we get out of this shit, you can buy me a coffee to thank me or name your next dog after me.
  3. Are you an author and have a book on Amazon and can’t understand why you don’t get reviews? That’s because Amazon is a jealous mistress and doesn’t like you promoting your books yourself. My friend and children’s author Jann Weeratunga sent me this explanation. When most of us market our books to our social media or email databases, we cut and paste the long link on the Amazon page. In Jann’s case, https://www.amazon.com/Pollys-Piralympics-Paralympics-Pirates-Piralympic/dp/1537543075. Here’s what happens … Amazon traces the long link the second that you copied it. Then they say you gave it to someone for a review, so they won’t put up any reviews around that time, especially if you use on social media and someone then goes to your book and buys it shortly afterwards. They also assume any other purchases were also obtained the same way. How do you get around it? Have a look at Jann’s long link above and see how she has shortened here https://www.amazon.com/dp/1537543075. It can’t be traced by Amazon.
  4. It appears that top military leaders have a unyielding moral code and they put those under their command first and they respect their enemy. I know I’ve spoken about Steven Pressfield before and sang his praises. I’m doing it again. Gates of Fire, Killing Rommel and Alexander the Great are must reads if you want to have any idea of how to lead. I’d go so far as to say that if you internalise the lessons from these books, you pretty much never have to go on another leadership course in your life again.
  5. Author, Douglas Kruger has just released Virus-Proof Your Small Business. 50 Ways to Survive the Covid-19 Crisis.

My best to you,

Jacques

082 906 3693

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